Today's News and Commentary – September 19th
Customer service agents for the now merged American Airlines-US Airways have voted strongly in favor of unionization. According to the National Mediation Board, about 86% of the 14,500 agents voted for representation by the CWA-IBT Association, a joint association of the Communications Workers of America and the Teamsters. Although agents at US Airways were unionized in the past, the far larger group of American Airlines agents was not. Before the merger, American Airlines employees had been trying to unionize for 19 years. The merger brought about a change in company structure, which union supporters argued permitted a new vote under federal rules. Unions have been particularly active in airlines this year, which may potentially raise wages for workers and costs for the companies. Virgin American flight attendants and JetBlue Airways pilots also voted in favor of representation in August and April, respectively.
According to The New York Times, the number of applications for unemployment benefits was lower than expected last week. This data suggests that job growth continues to be strong despite a sudden slowdown last month. Economists expect the seemingly burgeoning labor market to affect housing activity next year.
The LA Times reports that Speaker of the House John Boehner acknowledged that “immigration reform would help our economy” even after the Republican-dominated House refused to vote on it. Boehner then proceeded to stress the importance of border security. The House’s unwillingness to act on immigration reform has led President Obama to promise to take executive action after the November elections this year, prompting reactions from immigrant advocates and protesters alike. Meanwhile, Republicans in the House are taking legal against President Obama and have warned him not to take unilateral action.
In other immigration news, New York City announced that it would post representatives at federal immigration courts to enhance access to services for vulnerable immigrant youths. Representatives hailing from the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC) will be on hand to help immigrant youths and their families apply for benefits. Despite anti-immigrant criticism, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the move was “a more humanitarian approach” to the recent migration crisis. About 1,350 unaccompanied minors have made New York City their home in the first seven months of this year.
In Europe, Nestlé is one of 200 companies that is aiming to create job opportunities for people under the age of 30 through the Alliance for Youth program. The continent has been plagued by slow economic recovery and high unemployment rates, especially among young people. Based on 2014 data, Europe has so far been the “weakest-performing region in the world for food companies.” The unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 in the European Union is 21.7%, which is twice the general unemployment rate in the EU. Nestlé hopes to help what it views as a generation crisis. So far, the company has hired and trained 8,601 people with the ultimate goal of investing in 20,000 young workers. The program will also allow Nestlé to train a new generation or workers before older employees retire. Nestlé projects that about 100,000 of its employees will retire by 2004.